AirPrint Where You Couldn’t AirPrint Before

Our household has several iPads and iPhones. I use my iPad all the time to surf the web, reply to emails and view my Twitter stream, among other things.  Occasionally I find it would be nice to print from the iPad, since it has AirPrint and all, but our Canon MX860 printer doesn’t support AirPrint.

Enter handyPrint….

handyPrint™ v5 is a 64 bit Mac OSX application that allow you to print from your iPods, iPads and iPhones on printers that do not support the AirPrint protocol. v5 has been re-designed as a standard application similar to the ones you would find in the Apple App Store. You simply copy it to the Applications folder and run it from there. Once you turn the application switch to ON it will start on its own every time you login to you user account. No need to manually start the application.

handyPrint is a simple download which is a DMG, just click to install.  It’s an application needs to be running while the user is logged in on the host Mac.  I noticed there’s a Pro version that runs as a service to alleviate this requirement but this didn’t matter to me.

Once installed handyPrint is run and sits in the OS X menu bar after it’s turned on. The user interface is really simple:

HandyPrint

A list of available printers shows up and you just select the ones you enable AirPrint support.  This particular printer is actually wireless, I just happen to have the driver installed on my Mac.

Printing from the iPad is simple.  While you’re in the application you want to print from, just select Print as if you had an AirPrint-supported printer around:

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Select the printer and that’s it.  handyPrinter works seamless.

Thanks to Eric Davis for pointing it out on Twitter. 

iOS 7 and Seizing an Opportunity

IOS7

The past few days have been filled with all things Apple and I have been drinking from the firehose all things iOS 7.  Apple announced an anticipated upgrade to iOS on Monday but not just any upgrade.  The new operating system changes the way users will interact with their iOS devices and will change the way developers approach developing applications for these devices.

I started a post yesterday with my thoughts on how this new update would greatly affect developers and designers as they created new applications and how existing applications would be facing a difficult path.  I felt good about my thoughts until Marco Arment posted an eerily similar post as mine.   

iOS 7 is very different and I’m very skeptical the upgrade path for applications will be smooth.  As Marco says:

iOS 7 is different. It isn’t just a new skin: it introduces entirely new navigational and structural standards far beyond the extent of any previous UI changes. Existing apps can support iOS 7 fairly easily without looking broken, but they’ll look and feel ancient. 

Developers who created complex applications will be faced with a fork in the road; attempt a transition or start over:

I don’t think most developers of mature, non-trivial apps are going to have an easy time migrating them well to iOS 7. Even if they overcome the technical barriers, the resulting apps just won’t look and feel right. They won’t fool anyone.

A new paradigm means a chance to start from zero and build great things.

Apple has set fire to iOS. Everything’s in flux. Those with the least to lose have the most to gain, because this fall, hundreds of millions of people will start demanding apps for a platform with thousands of old, stale players and not many new, nimble alternatives. If you want to enter a category that’s crowded on iOS 6, and you’re one of the few that exclusively targets iOS 7, your app can look better, work better, and be faster and cheaper to develop than most competing apps.

Developers will be tasked with porting their applications to iOS 7 but it will be a difficult task.  Design is completely different so not only will developers have to ramp up but so will designers. 

iOS 7 is a great opportunity to create new applications, taking advantage of the new way of doing things. Maybe this is the opportunity and *not* upgrade applications but start all over and build new experiences in iOS 7.  Can we convince clients this is different enough that apps are worthy of rethinking the user experience, leveraging what’s new and building great experiences?  Some will fight the idea.   Some will refuse.  Those looking not where the puck is but where it’s going to be, will embrace a rebuild.

I for one, am devouring all the material I can get my hands on for iOS7 include the new Human Interface Guidelines and the Transition Guide.  I also have Xcode 5 running and installed iOS 7 beta on an old device.   If you’re interested in a really detailed article on iO7 user interface differences, go read Matt Gemmell’s article.

I will be ready to help clients move forward from older versions of iOS as well as ready to guide them on new applications.  As far as my applications, I will see how the transition goes.  This could be an opportune time to redesign, retool and rebuild for the paradigm shift to iOS 7.  

The design changes to iOS 7 are brilliant, very exciting times ahead.

7 Great iOS and Mac Developer Podcasts to Learn from Today

I have quite an extensive list of podcast subscriptions in iTunes these days with much of my interest on iOS and Mac development.   Considering how iTunes is Apple, there are a lot of podcasts that have just stop producing content and gone away.  There are a comparable few podcasts dedicated to iOS.

I spend time looking for new podcasts and revisiting old ones trying to find ones with good content and who produce on a fairly regular basis.  I wanted to share my favorites with you, hopefully to help them keep producing.

These podcasts are developer podcasts but there really are two audiences; some are focused on the technical details of development while others are of interest to developers running a business around iOS and/or Mac software.  I’m sure there’s overlap here.

I think each and every one of these are great and I know you will find value in them as well.

Core Intuition

Core Intuition is hosted by Daniel Jalkut, developer of MarsEdit and Manton Reece.  This podcast had been on a bit of a hiatus with sparse updates over the past year but recently they have been producing regular episodes.  Mainly a podcast produced by Mac developers with little iOS discussion, the topics are applicable to most developers in the Apple community.

Episodes run about 45 minutes and usually focused on a handful of topics like the Mac App Store, sandboxing and dealing with customers.  Top notch for sure and well thought out dialog.

Edge Cases

This podcast is relatively new and hosted by Andrew Pontious and Wolf Rentzsch.  They discuss topics appealing to both Mac and iOS developers ranging from Core Data to Sandboxing and the future of developing for Apple products.

Episodes are about 45 minutes in length and pretty rich in technical content.  The podcast started in May and they already have 8 great episodes out as of the time I write this.

Wolf is the creator of Mogenerator and other tools.

Developing Perspective

Developing Perspective is produced by solo developer David Smith who is an iOS and Mac developer.  Episodes run about 15 minutes and talk about very specific topics that all Apple developers think about one time or another.  These include the path to independence, developer’s machine and going to WWDC.

I discovered this podcast a short time ago and it is one that I anxiously await new episodes.  It seems every episodes resonates with me.   David has a great radio voice too, calm and soothing.

iDeveloper Live

This podcast is run by Steve “Scotty” Scott and company have been doing this podcast for what seems like an eternity.  Most of these shows run about an hour and cover various topics like open source, Apple (of course) and interviews with various developers known in the Mac community.  Many of these interviews cover specific topics the developer is very familiar with.

Listeners can tune into the live show and participate in the chat room as well as find updates on Twitter.  The episodes are always entertaining and full of great information.

NSBrief

Saul Mora is the creator and producer of these great interviews with Mac and iOS developers as well as people funning Apple-focused software companies.  The podcasts run almost an hour and Saul knows just the right questions to ask and knows enough about the technology to make really useful insights.

Recent episodes include chats with Jamiee Newbery from Black Pixel while on a plane.  Every episode is different and every episode contains valuable insight.

I met Saul at CocoaConf in DC a short time ago and he is a great guy doing these great interviews.

Build and Analyze

Marco Arment and Dan Benjamin host Build and Analyze, which is a bit of a different podcast.  Marco runs Instapaper and much of hour plus episodes discuss trials and tribulations of running Instapaper.  The insider view is really helpful and I pick up a lot of great tips.

I have to warn that sometimes, just sometimes, they get off on long tangents about coffee, cars and kids.  Although not directly applicable to running a application business, it can be entertaining.

NSScreencast

Ben Scheirman is .NET developer turned Ruby on Rails and iOS developer who created NSScreencast, which is not technically a podcast, but I thought it would add some good value to this list.  Although not free, at $9 a month, it is bargain.  Each screencast goes into detail about how to use a particular feature of Xcode or of iOS development in general.

Topics such as how to implement Pull to Refresh, using Storyboards, Provisioning to HTTP caching and setting up a CI server.  Each episode ranging from 10-30 minutes, perfect for those suffering from short attention span.

Finally

I listen and watch each of these and love them all.  I’ve learned a ton about he iOS and Mac developer community by just listening.

PalettePro AppDiction Review

Since the launch of our first company-owned iOS application, PalettePro,  at the end of May, it has been a bit of a learning experience about marketing my first application and every bit of publicity helps and is appreciated.

I was pleased to see the write-up about PalettePro on the AppDictions web site.  

The concept of this tool is simple—the best ones usually are. Sometimes people spot a color that they would have for a project or practical purposes. What you can do with PalettePro is take a picture with your gadget from within the application, select the color from the image and allow the app to isolate the exact hue you wanted. It couldn’t be any simpler or more straight-forward; this is a tool that even the most technologically-impaired person could get the hang of it after a few tries.

The idea of PalettePro is simplicity and it pleases me it’s one thing that stood out.

PalettePro – iOS Application for the Apple App Store

PalettePro

I recently finished up and submitted my first personal iOS application to Apple for sale in the App Store and have it approved.  It is the first application developed for Still River Software and not specifically for one of our clients.

The application is named PalettePro and is available now.

Background

The idea for PalettePro came about when I was out at dinner one evening with a friend of mine and we got to discussing a client project and app ideas.  This idea came to the top of the list and as a way to help us match colors for client web sites to their logo, office colors or whatever colors were important to them.  

I decided I would work on the application as time permitted and come up with something I wanted to use and if others could find value, then great.

The purpose of the tool is simple; use the camera on the iPhone or iPad to look at an object and sample the color in order to be used in web applications.  

Design

I have to first say that I am not a designer but I appreciate simple tools that do a single job and do it well.  This was my goal for the first iteration of this application; keep it simple.

The user experience is to be straightforward, just point the device at an object, tap the screen or button and see color values.  I also wanted to be able to save the results for later viewing.

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You should notice when looking at the application that it’s simple and does one thing well.

Usage

Using PalettePro is easy and just like taking a picture.  When the application loads you are immediately presented with a screen similar to above, obviously with your view in the camera.  As you pan around your target the color values automatically change until the desired color is sampled.  Hit the Scan button or tapping the screen freezes the color scanning and you can with save or scan again.  Simple and straightforward.

Later copy the hex values into your web application or take the device to your local paint store to match.

Check It Out

PalettePro is available now in the Apple App Store and I would really appreciate any feedback people may have.  The cost is $0.99 and I think well worth the cost of a cheap cup of coffee.

I have already gotten feedback and suggestions for additional features which I am working on for the next point release.

Badge appstore lrg

Palliative Symptoms Survey Hits the Apple App Store

I have been working diligently on a project for some time now and it’s finally available.  My company, Still River Software, received approval from Apple last week for Palliateive Symptoms Survey to help doctors and caregivers provide better and faster care to their patients.

Palliative Symptoms Survey is an application based on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Survey (ESAS-r) which was developed to assist in the assessment of nine symptoms that are common in palliative care patients: pain, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, lack of appetite, depression, anxiety, shortness of breath, and wellbeing There is also a blank scale for patient-specific symptoms.

The application is a native iPad application written in Objective-C with a back-end using Ruby on Rails.   Please read a little bit about the project on my company web site.

Easily iPad Enable Your WordPress Blog

The Apple iPad is the single most exciting technology to come since the introduction of the IBM PC many years ago.  I am old enough to see both come to market.  The iPad is a platform for content consumption and we are seeing only the very beginning of how creators will visually delivery their content to us.

I have in recent months moved this blog to WordPress from another self-hosted platform and often wonder how I waited so long to make the transition when I see the great themes and plugins made available to us.

The recent release of WordPress 3.1 made me aware of one such plugin.  Onswipe plugin allows any WordPress blog to have a unique view when viewing on the iPad.  The implementation looks very much like my current favorite iPad app, Flipboard.

The publisher says:

Onswipe makes it insanely easy to publish on touch enabled devices. When your readers navigate from an iPad to your site they are given a beautiful app like experience.

This is a pretty bold claim but one I think the plugin lives up to quite handily.

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I installed the plugin from the WordPress Dashboard and accepted the defaults.  Above you can see what my blog looks like on the front page, taken from my iPad.  If you are familiar with the Flipboard application, the user is presented with “swipe me”, a simple gesture brings the user to the first page of the site.

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What interests me here is 5 posts shown per page and *if* I had an image associated a post,  the image would be used.  I think if there are multiple images in the post the first one appearing in the HTML will be used.  The content is really nicely laid out and presented cleanly without any work on my end.

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The page for a particular post has a very clean presentation.  The font face and the color of the title are customizable from the WordPress Dashboard.  Any comments for a post are visible from the View Comments button where users can also add new comments.

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The little icon in the upper right corner of a post, like so many iPad apps, allows the reader to share the post to Twitter, Facebook or by email.  This is nice little addition to the theme.

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The menu button from the front page allows easy navigation to Pages, posts by a particular category or all the posts.

I have tested this blog from my iPad and it really is a thing of beauty.  The HTML5 is well done and fast and truly transform my blog both in function and in presentation.  Well-done Onswipe, who looks to have some other offerings on the horizon.

So, go grab your iPad and take a look at this site using it.

Interesting MobileMe Find My iPhone Behavior on iPhone 3GS

Today Apple released iOS 4.2.1 for all their mobile devices including iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad.  One of the last-minute features announced was the Fine My iPhone features which allows users to track down a stolen or misplaced iPhone.  Until today you had to have a MobileMe account costing $99 per year.  Today’s release gave iOS users a free MobileMe account which they can use for Find My iPhone.

I downloaded and installed iOS 4.2.1 for both my iPad and iPhone 3GS through iTunes.  Installation went without a hitch.

Find My iPhone

The Apple press release describes the feature:

The Find My iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch) feature is now free to use without a MobileMe℠ subscription and helps you locate your missing device.* The Find My iPhone app is a free download on the App Store℠ and lets users easily locate a missing device on a map and have it display a message or play a sound. Users can even remotely lock or wipe data from a lost device to protect privacy.

After installing the iOS update on the iPhone I decided to try the Find My iPhone feature.  On the iPhone this feature is enabled by going to Settings->Mail, Contacts, Calenders->Add Account…MobileMe.  I just used my existing Apple ID and password but encountered the following error message:

iPhone3GS-MobileMe

Hmm…so maybe pre-iPhone 4 devices aren’t supported.  I decided to give it a try on the iPad to see if maybe the service was just overwhelmed, following the same process the account was added and verified with ease.

I then decided to give it shot on the iPhone 3GS one last time and viola..worked fine.  So it appears Apple either has a bug in setting up an iOS device that is not current generation first or something got fixed.  I have heard from another user who experienced the same behavior.

Easiest fix if you experience the same problem, add your iPad or other device first.  If no other device exists..well, then I’m not sure. 

UPDATE: A reader here and confirmed on Twitter points out this behavior is by-design and you must have a current generation device to setup the free MobileMe account and then register your older devices.  The very fine print on the Apple web site states:

3. You can create a free Find My iPhone account on any iPhone 4, iPad, or iPod touch (4th generation) running iOS 4.2. Once you create an account on a qualifying device, use your Apple ID and password to enable Find My iPhone on your other devices running iOS 4.2. Find My iPhone is not available in all countries.

I guess if you have only an older device, like the iPhone 3GS, you are out of luck.  I would not have found this information by casually reading any information when setting up iOS 4.2.1 on my 3GS.  Had I setup the 3GS second, I would not have run into this either.

My Top 10 iPad Applications

I know more and more people who are buying iPads almost daily.  I get asked what applications I recommend for the device.  things_hero_20100616

First, I don’t use a tool because of cost, I use it for it’s usefulness to me.  Free is great, but never the top requirement when searching out a piece of software for my iPad.  So, here is the top 10 applications I use:

  1.  TweetDeck (Free) – I use Twitter a lot and use this software exclusively from my laptop and the iPad version functions the same so it is a nice extension from the MacBook Pro.  Note: at this time the software is not without one annoying flaw; when opening links from a tweet, the app will often crash, other times not but it can be a pain.
  2. NetNewsWire ($9.99) – I keep up with a fair amount of RSS feeds and this software syncs with Google Reader which I use daily on my laptop.  It is a nice rich-client which keeps Google Reader up-to-date and has a nice UI to boot.
  3. GoodReader ($0.99) – I read a lot of books, which is one reason I bought the iPad.  This utility makes reading PDF’s enjoyable.  Dropbox integrates nicely with it to, allowing me to keep my PDFs on Dropbox.
  4. SimpleNote (Free) – This does just what it says, simple notes.  This is like having a little notepad always ready but the beauty is it syncs to an online service to get your notes from any browser.
  5. iSSH ($9.99) – It’s really nice to have the iPad 3G to have connectivity almost anywhere and when accompanied by a great SSH utility like this I can SSH into all of my servers with ease.  One more reason not to carry the laptop.
  6. BlogPress ($2.99) – I don’t write long emails or blog much from the iPad but this tool integrates nicely with WordPress and makes those short post really easy.  Lots of features for the regular blogger.
  7. Penultimate ($2.99) – Great utility for mocking up ideas, taking notes or just a brain dump.  Drawing on the iPad surface with my finger is super easy and no delays.
  8. Instapaper ($4.99) – This is a great service which is used in all of my browsers to bookmark web pages I want to go back and read later.  The iPad version makes reading on the device really slick.
  9. BeejiveIM ($9.99) – A great way to keep in touch with remote workers and other contacts is of course IM and unfortunately I am on a few but this tool keeps them all in one place with the exception of Skype which I hope gets added soon.  A runner-up to this tool is IM+ ($9.99, Free Lite Version) which does offer Skype IM integration but the UI is not as refined.
  10. Things ($19.99) – I use this to-do list on my MacBook Pro, iPhone and now the iPad to manage projects with a nice clean interface.  The mobile devices sync back to the MBP and keeps everything in order.  I have to say the entire suite is a bit pricey compared to other iPhone and iPad applications out there but for something I use all the time, worth it.

Bonus -  Netflix (Free) – this is really the only entertainment type application on this list and after a long day of working it is often nice to pull up a movie or TV episode.  The quality of video is exceptional.

I can’t think of a replacement for any of these tools just yet.  I have tried their competitors but these stick as my favorites and most useful.